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TechLab: Electricity & Wireless

February 27, 2010

After reading the assigned articles regarding this subject, many thoughts come to mind:

-At first, I thought I was reading a (boring) history of electricity and the many products that have benefited from its discover, ie the radio, TV, PC, etc.

-At one point I thought that the US government took much too much leeway in controlling not only the airwaves, but the private companies that controlled much of this technology.

-At another point, I realized that the government had to (has to) step in at certain points in order to prevent chaos. Who was going to take charge of controlling/assigning radio frequencies to avoid 2 broadcasts from disrupting each other if not the government? And when it comes to matters of national security and things that must be done in times of war…don’t we want our government to do everything in its power to “win” even if it means taking over private companies?

– I then started to realize just how much government intervention there is regarding this subject. In a country whose 1st ammendment professes the right to free speech, did we really need a government agency (now the FCC) to take so much charge of what can and can’t be broadcast over our “free” airwaves?

-I was most impressed (as I always am) at the ingenuity of the American inventor. The things they’ve done in this field can never be celebrated enough. And whether these ingenious people worked for our government or the government simply commandeered their work in the cause of war…our government must always remember that it’s America’s basic, free market principals that enabled these inventors to thrive and that all efforts to limit or restrain their efforts would be foolhardy.

-It’s clear that the government as well as certain huge conglomerates have done their very best to control the technology that allows for the electronic broadcasting of information as well as the type and format of information being broadcast.

-It’s equally clear, as the author of ComTech & Social Control states, that neither the government nor any conglomerate has succeeded in those attempts…not for very long at least…for every time you get your hands wrapped around the most modern technology and think you “own” it, there’s another of those ingenious inventors working in a lab or garage somewhere that’s going to make your latest technology a dinosaur. Isn’t America great?

-The articles (to me) made it clear of the differences between broadcast television and cable TV programming; the huge amount of government say exercised over broadcast and the little over cable. But I wonder why? Some say it’s because you pay for cable so the government can’t oversee it. Is that all there is to it? It seems like there’s much more there. I’ll have to do some further research.

-I looked further into the life and times of one Edwin H. Armstrong. I must admit, I never heard of him before today but his story was a fascinating one to me. He was one of the geniuses I’ve been talking about. He and a fellow genius (and supposed friend) David Sarnoff  (President RCA) were doing incredibly advanced things at RCA. Sarnoff assigned Armstrong the task of getting the static out of radio transmissions. What he invented would become FM radio and was about to set the technology on its ear. Sarnoff saw it as a threat to RCA and AM broadcasts and used every trick, government intervention, influence, and backroom deal you could imagine to prevent Armstrong’s patent from reaching its potential. In American free markets, unfortunately, these things happen all too often. After years of spending what fortune he had trying to keep and develop his FM patents, Armstrong was left basically penniless and killed himself.

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